A Dirndl for Oktoberfest: Burda 8448

Burda 8448
My daughter went to Germany as a foreign exchange student several years ago, and ever since, she has been asking me to make her a dirndl for Oktoberfest.  I finally succumbed this year to her request.  A dirndl is a traditional German folk costume that includes a dress with a very full skirt and a very fitted bodice, an apron that goes over the skirt, and a peasant top to go under the bodice.

Burda magazine always features a dirndl in their September issue, and the Burda pattern book had lots of styles to choose from- from sexy St. Pauli girl type outfits, to long covered up ones.

My daughter chose 8448, which is one of the more covered up ones.  I used a black striped linen for the skirt, a pretty blue cotton for the apron, a black stretch corduroy for the bodice, and a lovely white batiste with little pink tufts of embroidery for the blouse.

The pattern takes a TON of fabric- it called for 3-3/8 yds just for the skirt.  My daughter is petite and I knew that she would just be swimming in fabric if I used that much for the skirt, so I improvised.  I used a 2 yard piece of fabric, cut it in half, so that there was one yard for the front, and one yard for the back.  I pleated it until it was the same size as the bottom of the bodice.  This was plenty of fabric for her as you can see!

I shortened the length of the apron pattern piece, so that it wouldn't be longer than the skirt.  The pattern also called for some shirring on the apron, but I chose to just gather it instead.  The top pattern was designed to hit just below the bust.  I added 10 inches to it, to make it full length, so that she can wear it alone as a top, which she has been doing.

Burda instructions from their paper patterns are horrendous.  They are done in about 6 point typeface, printed oh so faintly on newsprint, and several columns in different languages.  I also don't like that their layout diagrams are printed on the pattern tissue, not the instructions.  But if you've got good eyes, or a good pair of reading glasses, you can make it through them.  I am so spoiled by the quality of American pattern company instructions.  It's good to sew a Burda patten once in a while, just to appreciate our homies so much more!

However, my daughter is very happy with her dirndl and has worn it to a couple of events already.  I think she will get lots of years of use from it, so I'm happy with the results.

One Pattern, One Afternoon, 4 Looks!

I'm so excited- I think I just found my new go to TNT (Tried-n-True) pattern for a draped neck t-shirt!  The pattern is from the Fall/Winter issue of My Image magazine, style #1152.  A mere 3 pattern pieces, and a Saturday afternoon sewing time, and I was able to whip up 4 completely different looks. 
Version #1- work top
My one tip with this pattern- eliminate the back neck facing- you don't need it!  Just turn under 1/2" and topstitch in place.  

The first is a  work look- I used a poly/lycra jersey knit in a crazy black, cream and red animal print.   This one went together so well, and fit so perfectly, that as soon as I was done, I said, "okay, what else can I make from this pattern?"

Version #2 Casual top with jeans

  So, my next version is more casual- it's a grey and white geometric rayon lycra knit that I thought I could wear with my grey jeans.  Again, my growing addiction to this pattern left me hungry for more!  So, I thought "Hmmm...let's try some completely different fabric...."

Version #3- Short dress with leggings.
Which is where this one version came in.  I'm going to call this one my "blue giraffe" dress,as the print looks like a giraffe skin, but of course, in blue.  This one is a thick, heavy double knit, that will be so warm in the winter.  I lengthened the pattern 15 inches to get above the knee length to wear with tights or leggings.

I still was riding high from 3 good rolls of the dice, so I thought I would really play a wild card on the next version.

Version #4- Dressy Party Top!

Which is where this last top came in.  This is a sequined mesh knit- very little stretch, so I made the seam allowances just 1/4 inch.  I LOVE this one!  It will be perfect for holiday parties!

The sequins are hard to photograph, so Elise, my photographer, took a video to catch how the sequins light up when I move.

And the best part of this- the fabric was part of a FREE mystery bundle from Fabric Mart!  As I always say, you can't beat FREE!

I stopped here, but I swear that the possibilities for this pattern are endless.  It went together so easily, and fits so nicely, that I can see making this for holiday gifts, with short sleeves for spring, and sleeveless for summer. 

You can still buy this issue here!  It is absolutely worth it even if all you make is this one pattern!

Happy Sewing!

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10 Winners will be chosen next Tuesday 10.25.2011!

My Dear Watson- It's a Cape!

I'm giving a nod to Sherlock Holmes' style in my latest sewing escapade.  This plaid wool cape is for a friend of mine who is preparing for a life of excitement and adventure.  She is expecting a baby in late January: the COLDEST time of the year in Illinois!  Coats are my specialty, but I wanted to make something non-maternity, that she could continue to wear anytime after the baby is born. So, voila, a CAPE came to mind!  I've never owned or made a cape before, so this was a journey into the unknown for me.  Here is my pattern review for Simplicity 2285 that I posted on Patternreview.com

Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes, but the pocket area is a little tricky and you have to think through that. When I was making it, I forgot that I was making a cape, not a coat, and was thinking "These are the craziest pocket instructions I've ever seen!!! How did these ever get approved!!!!". Then I realized that the pockets are accessible from the INSIDE of the coat, AND that the same opening is used to put your hands through to get to the outside.
Inside pocket with opening to front for arms.
Close-up of gun flaps and buttons.
back pleat detail
Fabric Used: A Woolrich wool plaid in burgundy, plum and grey. I bought it on Ebay- 2-1/2 yards for $17!  I also found the buttons on Ebay. They were definitely vintage- still on the cards, and I was so happy because I got them for a fraction of what new buttons would have cost, PLUS they are THE perfect color!
front welt pocket detail
Cape on hanger
Would you sew it again?  Yes, I think that I would like to make one for myself, now that I've figured out the ins and outs of this pattern. They say that capes are "In" this year. I have yet to see that in central Illinois, but me and my pregnant friend may be the first.

My Image 1157 Princess Seamed Dress

I'm excited to make my first item from the My Image Fall/Winter 2011 magazine!  I love this pattern magazine because its designs are so wearable and they include a lot of designs for knits. This one is style 1157.

Pattern Description: Long sleeved princess style dress with a gathered front inset.

Pattern Sizing: European sizes 36-44.  I made size 42, which is about a US size 12 in RTW.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? No, I don't think that the line drawing portrayed the center front correctly. It's only gathered on one side, and the line drawing looks like it is gathered on both sides.

Were the instructions easy to follow? The only problem that I had was with where to match the notches on the front panels. There were too many notches!! I originally must have chosen the wrong ones to match the center front panel with the side front panel, as the neckline came to below my bra line. I actually thought about just turning it around and wearing it as a dress with an extremely low back. But, modesty got the best of me, and I decided to rip it out, and place it about 6 inches higher this time.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I thought it was figure flattering, but appropriate for work.

Fabric Used: A violet rayon jersey. A difficult fabric to work with because it is so stretchy. 

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: I lengthened the dress 3 inches, and the sleeves 2 inches. I also raised the neckline higher than intended.

I also eliminated the back facing. I ironed a fusible bias tape interfacing to the back, and just turned under and topstitched it in place.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
Yes, but I would just ignore the notch markings on the center front panel, and use your own judgement of where to gather, and where to place it on the side front panel. But overall, I love the fit from this company, and recommend them.

You can order this issue from this here.

Bundle Sale at SewBaby

If you have a tendency to want every fabric because they are all so beautiful, but don't have the space to keep yards and yards, then you will love our fabric bundles!  We've selected several fabrics that all go wonderfully together, and packaged them in bundles that contain 1/2 yard of each fabric.  These are wonderful to help you get creative!  Use one fabric for a collar, another fabric for a hem band, perhaps another for the bodice and another for the skirt.  Or if you are making home dec items, piece together the pieces for valances, pillow tops, aprons, etc.  The possibilities are limitless!
Another wonderful thing about our bundles, is that they are always 10% less than you would pay regularly for them if you were to buy them individually.  And to entice you to try them out, we are offering a special coupon for an extra 15% off the bundles until October 17th!
Just type in the code BUNDLE11 when you check out to get this extra discount.
Visit our bundles here!
Happy Bundling!

Sewing 101 Class Projects!

 I took on a new adventure this September.  I decided to teach sewing classes for our local community college, Parkland College, and for the Urbana Adult Education program.  I've taught private sewing lessons before, but not a group, so I had to think about how to go about it.  I, myself, am a project based learner- learning through actually making something, not by listening to a lecture or reading a book. So, Shirley suggested that our Double Duty bag pattern would be a great project that would appeal to a wide variety of people, and could be used in many situations- knitting bag, diaper bag, beach bag, etc. Shirley has made over 50 of these bags herself, so I invited her to be my teaching assistant during class.

The students were amazing and very patient with us as we learned what worked and what didn't with our set-up.  They did a fantastic job, and here are the pictures to prove it!
    We held the class here at Sewbaby because I had collected enough Bernina sewing machines over the years, and I knew that if something went wrong during class, that I could fix them.  Also, we set up a cutting station and two ironing stations to be shared among the six students per class.  I have new respect for home economics teachers who somehow manage to coordinate 20 or 30 students and their sewing projects! 

We had a lot of fun teaching and are planning on Sewing 102 in the very near future. If you are in the Champaign-Urbana area and would like more information, you can contact either the Parkland College Community Education or Urbana Adult Education programs for our next offerings!